Blue Jays: Where does Gibby rank among Jays’ skippers?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: John Gibbons
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: John Gibbons /

John Gibbons earned his 700th win as the manager of the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. With this latest milestone, how should we rank Gibby among Blue Jays manager’s throughout club history?

The Blue Jays are playing some better baseball, as they took two out of three from the Yankees, and then did the same with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ll take on the Tampa Bay Rays in a surprisingly important series for both clubs, and hope to keep the positive momentum rolling.

And speaking of positives, John Gibbons celebrated a milestone on Sunday with his 700th win as the manager of the Blue Jays. The 2-time Jays’ coach probably hoped to reach the mark sooner in 2017, but with their 56th win in 2017, Gibbons is the second manager in Toronto’s history to reach that plateau. He trails only Cito Gaston‘s franchise mark of 894 wins,

In his first go around from 2004-2008, Gibbons finished with a .500 mark at 305-305. The team went through some interesting years, but never qualified for the playoffs throughout that timeframe, and eventually the Montana born skipper was dismissed. At that point he was best known for dust-ups with Ted Lilly and Shea Hillebrand, who both played with the team during his first tenure.

However as almost all of us remember, he was brought back by Alex Anthopoulos in 2013, and helped guide the team to two consecutive ALCS appearances in 2015, and 2016. Things have gone better this time around, even if this year has been a big disappointment.

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Despite the successes that he’s had in Toronto, he’s still one of the more criticized managers in game, or at least it feels that way. I realize that every bench boss in baseball will take heat on the night of a loss, but there have been fans consistently calling for his head since the day he was hired. I’ve always felt that he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does, even this year, and I’m fully aware even as I write this, that I’ll take heat in the comments section for supporting him.

He’s far from perfect, and I’ve been critical of him this year at times as well, but I think if we’re talking about his place in Blue Jays’ history, he deserves a great deal of credit. With his 700th win, he’s closing in on Cito Gaston, even if he’ll need at least a couple more seasons to surpass him, if he can hang around that long. No other skipper has spent more than four years with the team, so he’s easily compiled enough wins and games to hold the second spot for a long time, even if he doesn’t get close to Cito before he’s done.

He’s also 6th in winning percentage (I don’t count Gene Tenace‘s 13 games, or Mel Queen‘s five game stint), behind Bobby Cox (.549 in 4 seasons), Tim Johnson (.543 in 1 season), Jimy Williams (.538 in 4 seasons), Cito Gaston (.516 in 12 seasons), and Jim Fregosi (.515 in 2 seasons). Gibbons began the year ahead of both Fregosi and Gaston as well, and only fell behind after the unexpectedly weak season in 2017.

He’s been well liked and supported in the clubhouse (other than Hillebrand and Lilly, of course), and Anthopoulos trusted him enough to bring him back for a second time, despite the fact that he hadn’t managed a game in the MLB since he was fired by the Blue Jays in 2008. He was also retained and even extended by the new regime of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, despite the speculation that the new head honchos would want to pick “their guy”. It hasn’t happened yet, and Gibbons’ supporting staff was handed extensions in the middle of this season, despite the struggles of the team. That says something, even if you don’t agree with it (and I’ll admit that my eyebrows raised when I read it).

So whether you’re a fan, or you routinely campaign for his dismissal, I hope we can all appreciate his place in Blue Jays’ history. Congratulations Mr. Gibbons, I for one raise my glass to you for a job well done.

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